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Cuba seeks investors to develop its tourism infrastructure

Facing a sudden influx of tourists following normalization of relations with its American neighbor, Cuba prepares to undertake ambitious projects in order to strengthen its hotel supply and enhance its tourist assets.

The Cuban government now regards tourism as a strategic sector for the country's economy, and the Ministry of Tourism is currently reviewing proposals from foreign investors. It aspires to significantly reinforce the national hotel supply, aiming to increase its capacity from 63,000 rooms to 85,000 units over the next five years. The country counts on these investments to develop infrastructure such as golf courses and resorts to accommodate increasing numbers of visitors.

For Cuban authorities, the main challenge lies in modernizing outdated tourism facilities, while retaining the authenticity that enabled the destination to surge in popularity over the past few years. In the capital, a dozen hotels and other tourism-related projects are under study, following proposals from international investors, Spanish companies in particular. European operators are ahead of the game compared to their American counterparts, after more than half a century of embargo. Addressing European representatives of the tourism industry, Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero declared that "Cuba would never turn its back on those who collaborated with us when times were tough," according to local news reports.

Foreseeing the mass arrival of American vacationers, all source markets saw an increase in visits to the Caribbean island in 2015. Canada remained the largest source with 1.3 million visitors (+10.6% from 2014), ahead of major European source markets: Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain. Latin America also represents an essential source for Cuban tourism, with Mexico leading the way. Finally, close to 150,000 American tourists visited the island in 2015 – an unprecedented 80% increase. In all, visiting numbers surged by 17.4% last year, exceeding the 3.5 million visitor mark. In short, Cuba will definitely be a must-see destination in 2016.

Also Read:

  • Cuba's future in tourism attracts investors
  • Cuba: at the dawn of a revolution, a look at a century of tourism 
  • Gabriel Escarrer Jaume, CEO Melia International Hotels
  • Tourist arrivals in Cuba follow a growth curve

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